Former Cranbrook men among Hell’s Angels arrested in Spanish bust

Two former Cranbrook residents are among the four Hells Angels accused of attempting to distribute 500 kilograms of cocaine in Spain.

  • Sep. 17, 2013 2:00 p.m.
Jason Arkinstall

Jason Arkinstall

Kim Bolan/Vancouver Sun

Two former Cranbrook residents are among the four Canadian Hells Angels accused of attempting to distribute 500 kilograms of cocaine in Spain.

Two full-patch members — Jason Cyrus Arkinstall (formerly of Cranbrook, now of Mission) and Chad John Wilson of Haney — were among the men arrested in a coffee bar by Spain’s National Police. The othermen facing charges in Spain are Scott Smitna (formerly of Cranbrook) and Michael Dryborough, associates of the Hells Angels in Mission and Haney.

Spain’s Interior Ministry revealed details of the investigation Saturday and released a video of the arrests of the four, but did not identify them by name or hometown. The video shows police running into the café, wrestling the men from their chairs to the ground and handcuffing them. Police did not say when the arrest happened.

The Spanish government said the four were involved in an attempt to smuggle cocaine from Colombia to the Galician coast of Spain on a sailboat. One of the B.C. bikers was on the vessel, while the others were waiting in Spain.

The Canadian bikers were arrested in Pontevedra, a port in the northwest of Spain.

Officials alleged the drug conspiracy was linked to a member of the San Diego chapter of the Hells Angels, of which Wilson is a former member.

Police had been aware of the conspiracy for several weeks and had been watching since July 30 as the operation unfolded. Officers searched two vans loaded with cocaine and then arrested the Canadians. Police also seized encrypted smartphones. Two other people were arrested at another location.

Spain’s National Police worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Europol and French officials on the investigation. The Sun has learned the RCMP was contacted after the arrests to provide information on the four men.

Arkinstall has been a high-profile Hells Angel. He was most recently in court in Calgary, where he was acquitted in 2011 of uttering threats against police. The judge in the case said Arkinstall was “physically abused” by officers during his arrest and that an anonymously recorded video contradicted the testimony of the cops.

In B.C., Arkinstall also successfully challenged a law that allowed city electrical inspectors to search houses for marijuana grow operations without warrants.

Surrey city inspectors and police first attempted to enter his house back in 2005, but Arkinstall refused to let them in. They tried again 2006 and 2007 on the grounds that the high power consumption could mean pot was growing inside and the neighbourhood at risk.

Arkinstall agreed to allow inspectors in, but not Surrey RCMP. The inspectors would not go in unescorted. BC Hydro later cut off the family’s electricity, leading to a three-year court battle.

Arkinstall, 40, has an extensive criminal record and has been convicted of offences ranging from assault causing bodily harm to trafficking in cocaine, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in jail on July 28, 2005.

Wilson, the other full-patch Angel arrested in Spain, pleaded guilty in South Dakota in 2009 of being an alien in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Wilson was earlier acquitted, along with fellow HA member John Midmore, of attempted murder for an Aug. 8, 2006 gunfight with members of the rival Outlaws biker gang. Wilson and Midmore claimed they acted in self-defence when they wounded five people linked to the Outlaws.

At the time, Wilson was a member of the San Diego chapter, but he returned to B.C. and joined the Haney group.